Paper is one of those controversial materials which are often considered as ‘just paper’ or ‘oh but is paper is okay’ when it comes to disposing or considering single use items ..
Of course , paper is probably better than plastic BUT paper is not that environmentally friendly either. Have you ever noticed those footings on emails saying ‘consider the environment/ don’t print this email’?
Firstly - where does paper come from ? Most conventional paper is made from trees - this means cutting down trees that we have seen are actually an important sink of co2 and make the planet habitatable, but also means cultivating trees for paper instead of cultivating some agriculturally important crop!
Secondly - think of all the chemicals ( On this page you will find a list of chemicals currently used in the industry). Yes, because paper is extensively processed to make the final white product we are used to see. And, you guessed right, this involves a lot of chemicals (mostly bleaches). Bleaches are bad for the workers, the air quality but also these can end-up in our waters.. so really no good!! And if we think about the glossy magazine papers they go through even more processes and more chemicals. Now, at least in recent years some progress have been made to ensure also these more 'fancy' papers can be recycled.. but still, i think it's worth to invest some time to think as to whether we really need it! Of course, in the digital era, most magazines have switched to online platforms.. but, I hear you, isn’t it nice sometimes to have that hard copy in your hands ? I used to love the girly magazines when i was a young teenager, then switched to the copy of 'rolling stones' as an older teen, and as i grew up I was always looking for carve (the surf magazine). This post was actually inspired by a magazine (sirene) that is all about the wonderfulness of the ocean and is made out of seaweed paper! If you remember I already mentioned how seaweed cultivation can be sustainable , if not useful .. but while eating of the weeds is not yet so widely done in western societies , using this for paper can be a useful solution !
In the meantime I came across some other more sustainable types of papers, especially for unavoidable papers (like toilet papers or kitchen towels) : paper made of straw (cartapaglia) and paper made of food waste (especially fruit leftovers, e.g. from the juice industry). The food waste paper seems of particular interest , as many industries will produce some leftovers that are not reused , from peels and pulps from the juicing processes (Which maybe could be made part of animal feeds so not useless waste) through to truly ‘useless’ waste such as the peel of coffee beans or the shell of nuts.. this will maximise the production potential of any given cultivated area, and instead of cultivating only for food or only for paper one can do both in the same land!
Now, before you go on following my advices and my link, and because transport should also be considered in the mix of impacts, it is essential to get information on local ‘alternative paper’ industries and choose them over some big company based far away.... and why not get your kids making recycled paper? You might not be able to actually use it on your everyday life (please don't try to put it in your printer) but it's a nice exercise and can make for pretty presents :)
Disclaimer: some posts may contain affiliate links. At no extra costs to you, buying through the link will help me in this blogging journey!